Sondra Samuels raced out the morning of Election Day to buy Chuck Taylor shoes.
Word had gone out to women in the "Divine Nine," the group of historically Black Greek organizations, to wear emblems of Kamala Harris' signature style to support the first Black woman on a major party ticket. Samuels pledged Delta Sigma Theta in college, while Harris is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, both Black sororities founded more than a century ago.
"I said, 'I gotta have Chuck Taylors, I gotta have Chuck Taylors,' " said Samuels, president and CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone. "Whatever symbol I can have that shows I am in solidarity with this woman and I'm with her, I wanted to do that."
Black women in the Twin Cities reflected on the historic nature of Harris' candidacy on Tuesday, even as the high-stakes contest between President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden has overshadowed the vice presidential candidates.
Samuels evoked the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, a civil rights activist from Mississippi who fought for voting rights and racial equality. Hamer did that not just for herself, said Samuels, but for Harris to be able to run for vice president.
"I'm today holding the continuum between Fanny Lou Hamer, me, Kamala … and all of our ancestors of enslaved Africans who lived, who fought, who kept going," said Samuels.
Bernadeia Johnson, a former Minneapolis school superintendent and now an assistant professor at Minnesota State University-Mankato, also wore Chuck Taylor sneakers and pearls on Tuesday after encouraging other Black sorority sisters to do the same. She, too, is a member of Delta Sigma Theta.
Johnson saw the power of representation as school superintendent when she visited a kindergarten classroom with a white associate superintendent. A boy stood up and asked whether her white colleague was the superintendent.
When the children learned that Johnson had that role, a Black girl was excited and wondered why no one had told them ahead of time that she was African American. "All the little girls and people who are looking up will see it is possible for a Black woman to be elected to a high office," Johnson said.
Several Black women in line to vote at Farview Park in Minneapolis on Tuesday were excited about casting a ballot for one of their own.
"I just feel so lucky that I'm witnessing history, that I am here now," said Sherry Pierce. "We stand on the shoulders of so many other women, especially women of color."
Pierce, a journeywoman for Laborers Local 563, praised Harris for supporting the trades. Though she has a decent health care plan herself, Pierce also supports the Biden-Harris ticket because she believes they will help those who cannot afford the same.
"It makes me feel good to know that women can actually do things like that, especially women of color, somebody who looks like me," said Pierce of Harris' candidacy.
Shilaya Frostad was happy about the example that Harris' candidacy set for her two daughters, ages 3 and 2 months, who accompanied her to vote.
"It's good to see a woman of color up there — normally it's a white male," said Frostad, a 26-year-old health care worker. "It shows [her daughters] that your voice matters, that you have a say in your future."
Jaquilla Marzette, 28, said that African American women are strong and determined, and Harris is the right pick for the job. She supports Harris because "with her being the vice president, there's going to be structure, there's going to be order. It feels like people are going to be held accountable for their actions right now."
Black women have excelled in sports and entertainment, Marzette added, and "it's time to be represented in all areas of life. I love seeing her there. … Even if they don't win today or win this week, it's nice to know we were represented on the ballot."